Even With Massive NY Sports Betting Handle Numbers, Sen. Addabbo Wants More

Written By Mike Mazzeo on May 10, 2022

Sen. Joe Addabbo has been very pleased with the New York online sports betting numbers.

The Empire State exceeded $1 billion in handle in each of the first four months since legal online sports betting in New York launched in January.

  • January: $1.7 billion
  • February: $1.5 billion
  • March: $1.6 billion
  • April: $1.4 billion

April’s handle was down 15% from March, but that’s not necessarily a surprise given the annual sports calendar. After all, with leagues wrapping up their seasons, fewer wagering options become available. New York online sportsbooks have also cut promotional spend. That could continue given the state’s 51% tax rate.

“I think people knew of the potential that New York had, but to do so in this fashion, this quick, this solid, I think has surprised some,” Addabbo told PlayNY. “But it’s great because we get to build on this.”

Continued push for NY horse betting integration, NY sportsbook expansion

Addabbo plans to continue to push for online sportsbooks to integrate fixed-odds horse racing in NY before the state’s post-budget legislative session ends June 2.

“I’m very enthusiastic moving forward,” Addabbo said.

Through May 1, New York’s online sports betting handle has totaled $6.3 billion, leading to nearly $217 million in tax revenue for the state. Still, online sportsbooks have continued to complain about the 51% tax rate as they seek a path to profitability. FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars and BetMGM have dominated so far, with FanDuel way ahead of the pack in terms of market share (43% in April) and revenue share (61% in April).

One-house bills in the Senate and Assembly to increase the number of operators — thereby lowering the tax rate — failed to gain any traction in negotiations before the final NYS budget went into place. But Addabbo and counterpart Assemb. Gary Pretlow will continue to evaluate in the coming months.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Addabbo said. “New York isn’t going to sit around and say these numbers look great so we’re done. No, we’re going to stand at the ready and always look to improve the product for the people of New York.”

What about expanded NY sports betting offerings?

In addition to potentially expanding the number of operators, Addabbo and Pretlow also plan to evaluate expanding the number of betting options available to New Yorkers.

Currently, NY bettors cannot bet on player future awards (MVP, Cy Young, Heisman, etc.) that require a vote. Same for events like the NFL draft, which don’t fall under the umbrella of “competitive sporting events” per state regulations. It’s also possible events like the Grammy’s and Oscars are added as well.

“It’s something that we’re looking at,” Addabbo said. “And if it’s not this session, maybe next year. But we are discussing ways we could do it legislatively.”

Addabbo noted that the New York State Gaming Commission does not perceive drafts as a “sports” under the definition of sports betting. “And frankly,” Addabbo said, speaking candidly, “I may see it that way too — it’s not really a competitive sport.”

Addabbo continued: “Not that we shouldn’t do it or that we can’t do it going forward — I know other states are doing it. But I don’t think it falls under the definition of a competitive sport. So listen, it’s something that we can consider down the road.

“Conceivably, in my opinion, do I see it happening somewhere down the line in New York? Yes, I do. I see us evolving in the direction, but maybe just not yet.”

Giving NY bettors an expanded menu of options would potentially deter them from taking their business to neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, or to unregulated offshore sportsbooks. It’s important for NY to stay as competitive as possible.

Addabbo and Pretlow succeeded in having the final NYS budget including the acceleration of three downstate NY casino licenses. And next year, Addabbo wants to focus on legalized online casino gaming during the legislative session.

Even with a fast start, plenty of heavy lifting remains.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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